Published On: Mon, Jan 15th, 2024

Britain could soon be at war as Grant Shapps warns ‘enemies are gathering around us’ | Politics | News

Britain’s enemies “are gathering around us” and the threat of war is intensifying, Grant Shapps has admitted.

In a gloomy assessment, the Defence Secretary said the number of conflicts around the globe is “likely to grow”.

He warned the threat posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, combined with terrorist groups, risks “tearing apart the rules-based international order”.

Mr Shapps said Ukraine‘s fate may be decided in the coming months, adding that the West must continue to supply Kyiv with weapons and aid.

He said: “Old enemies are reanimated. New foes are taking shape. Battle lines are being redrawn.

“The tanks are literally on Europe’s Ukrainian lawn.

“And the foundations of the world order are being shaken to their core.

“We stand at this crossroads – whether to surrender to a sea of troubles, or do everything we can to deter the danger.

“I believe that, in reality, it’s no choice at all.

“To guarantee our freedoms, we must be prepared.

“Prepared to deter – the enemies who are gathering all around us. Lead our allies in whatever conflicts are to come.

“Defend our nation whatever threat should arise. This is what Britain has always done.”

Mr Shapps again reiterated that the Government wants to increase spending on defence to 2.5% of GDP.

And the Defence Secretary warned many European nations: “The era of the peace dividend is over.

“In five years’ time we could be looking at multiple theatres involving Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

“Ask yourselves – looking at today’s conflicts across the world – is it more likely that the number grows, or reduces?

“I suspect we all know the answer – it’s likely to grow. So, 2024 must mark an inflexion point.”

British and American forces struck more than 60 targets with cruise missiles and bombs launched by fighter jets, warships and a submarine on Thursday in a bid to restore security in the Red Sea.

Sites hit included weapon depots, radars and command centres, including in remote mountain areas, the US has said.

Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have been attacking cargo ships transitting through the Red Sea, severly impacting global trade.

Russia has gone to extraordinary lengths to replenish its troops in Ukraine, including deploying thousands of prisoners directly from the country’s jails. Inmates who sign up for six months on the frontline are pardoned upon their return.
It is not the first time that authorities have used such a tactic, with the Soviet Union employing “prisoner battalions” during the Second World War.

And China is threatening to attack Taiwan. Iran has been linked to assassination attempts on British soil, and numerous militia groups wreaking havoc in the Middle East.

Tehran is also seeking to build nuclear weapons, prompting alarm from many Western Governments.

The Defence Secretary said the UK must ensure its “entire defence ecosystem is ready” and make its industry “more resilient” if it is to defend its homeland.

He added that his commitment to getting armed forces personnel the resources they need to do their job is “iron cast”.

“Our great resource has always been the men and women who work tirelessly to protect our nation, but to defend our nation from the increasing dangers of tomorrow they must have what they need to do the job,” he said.

“That’s why this Conservative government has … already taken vital steps to increase defence spending”.

Mr Shapps said the “combined threats” of state aggression and terrorism risked “tearing apart the rules-based international order, established to keep the peace after the Second World War” – adding that the world was “sadly far more dangerous” than since the huge conflict ended.

Mr Shapp told an audience – which included Britain’s military chiefs: “If we are to defend our homeland, we must ensure our entire defence ecosystem is ready.

“Firstly, we must make our industry more resilient to empower us to rearm, to resupply, to innovate faster than our opponents. There’s a huge opportunity here for British industry.”

But the Defence Secretary said the “decisive” action in the Red Sea offers “a direct blueprint for how the UK must continue to lead in the future”.

He added: “The result is that the Houthis have been dealt a blow.

“Our decisive response in the Red Sea and our uplift in support for Ukraine offers a direct blueprint for how the UK must continue to lead in the future, offering our unwavering support to our allies in times of struggle, galvanising global response to any malign actors seeking to break rules-based international order and acting decisively when the moment calls for us to defend ourselves, deter and lead.”

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